You might be familiar with French, Italian, German, Spanish and Chinese. However, all across the globe, some people speak pidgin. Not a native language, pidgin languages come about when two or more groups don’t share a common language. In order to communicate, they develop something new, called a pidgin language. Many of these languages have come about due to one thing and one thing only, business. Pidgin languages developed for trade, maritime activities and simply to do business between groups who didn’t share a common tongue.
In Hawaii, pidgin is a part of the state’s very makeup. In fact, the U.S. Census just recently recognized Hawaiian Pidgin as one of the official languages spoken on the islands. After surveying Hawaiians from 2009 to 2013, the bureau uncovered Hawaiian Pidgin was just one of the many languages spoken at home besides English. The history of Hawaiian Pidgin is linked to the wave of immigrants on the islands. Overtime, several pidgin words and phrases have made their way into everyday life on the islands. If you are visiting Hawaii and want to understand this unique language, familiarize yourself with these common words and phrases:
Da kine: When you can’t quite think of the word you want to use, Hawaiians might say da kine. Literally meaning, “the kind,” da kine can sometimes be used in the context of saying, “the real thing.”
Fo real: Most non-Hawaiian pidgin speakers can guess what this pidgin term means. Fo real is often said to express that something is for real. It can used as a question to state, “Really?”
Brah: One of the most common Hawaiian pidgin terms is that of brah, meaning “brother”. And a brah doesn’t have to be your brother by blood.
Chicken skin: While chicken skin might mean one thing to you and me, Hawaiian Pidgin uses this phrase when describing what most call goosebumps.
To da max: If you are looking to add some emphasis to what you are saying, Hawaiian pidgin calls for saying, “To da max.” The phrase not only adds that emphasis but also can mean there are no limits.
Mo bettah: If you’ve just experienced the best or want to express something is excellent, you might say mo bettah in Hawaiian pidgin.